forest was the most lush and peaceful that the bard had ever seen, even she
would never be able to do the scene justice with words. As she walked with
Artemis she gazed around at the paradise she had been brought to, the trees, the
flowers, the animals; she could not help wondering whether the surrounding area
was enhanced and even protected by the Goddess. For the first time since she had
‘technically’ died she felt at ease. She was walking in the open, she was
self-conscious in the blue dress, sorely missing her staff, but with her hand
clasped firmly in that of the warriors - a brunette warrior at that - not Xena,
but she still felt safe.
woodland gave way to a clearing and revealed Artemis’s hunting lodge. The
lodge itself rivaled anything that could have been built by any of the Amazons,
including the Queen’s hut, but then Artemis was the Goddess of the female
warriors. It did not surprise Gabrielle when she discovered that Artemis had
posted Amazon guards at the entrance. On closer inspection of the two woman
stood on either side of the huge wooden doors she realised that she knew the two
of them and she began to smile, “Is that...?”
and Terreis? Yes. One with the power of ideas and one with the power to make
them happen. They are my own personal guards and they will take care of any of
your needs while you are here. They’ve been waiting for you.”
the Goddess and the bard approached the cabin the two Amazon moved towards them.
Gabrielle had barely reached the top step when Terreis pulled her into a fierce
hug. “Just couldn’t stop risking yourself for other people could you.”
Terreis teased as she held Gabrielle tightly.
she couldn’t, she is a true Amazon and a perfect successor to both of us.”
released Gabrielle into her older sisters embrace, after a moment Melosa drew
back to look at how much Gabrielle had grown since they had last seen one
another. “It is good to see you Gabrielle, I wish the circumstances could have
and me both. But I guess our daughters had other plans.” Gabrielle said as
sarcastically as she could but everybody heard the underlying regret in her
words. “When Ephiny told me what Velasca had done I knew I had to honour your
Amazons stiffened at the mention of the renegade Amazons name, Melosa shot a
sideways glance at Artemis who stood with her lips pursed and fists clenched.
guess that’s not a name you say around here, ”Gabrielle hazarded, “She’s
not around, is she?” Gabrielle darted looks around her in case the
self-proclaimed Goddess of Chaos had broken free from her imprisonment and still
held a grudge against Gabrielle.
Artemis announced a slight smile creeping onto her face, “She will not be
bothering you, or anyone else for that matter, for quite a while,” The smile
was now a self-satisfied smirk, “That’s what she gets for destroying one of
my temples and thinking she could equal me.” Artemis seemed to return to the
present, “Melosa have chambers prepared for our guest, Terreis get her
something to eat, I’m sure she’s hungry.” Artemis smiled fondly at the
young woman, even on Olympus she had heard of the bards legendary appetite.
mouth watered at the prospect of food, but she had a nagging suspicion in her
head, “I can eat?”
is not the Underworld Gabrielle, and you’re not completely dead, you will not
be imprisoned for eating,” Artemis explained, “but stay away from the
two Amazon guards led the way into the lodge, Artemis and Gabrielle followed,
the younger woman lost in her thoughts. Ambrosia had brought Xena back to life
when she had not been completely dead, could the same work for her?
even think about it Gabrielle,” Artemis answered her thoughts, “Xena’s
fate was in her own hands then, her own choice. Your fate currently rests in the
hands of the Gods, our choice. A Judgement is the only way that your fate can be
decided. We will be fare, but do not try to trick us.”
that Gabrielle realised that Ambrosia was out of the question, and that her fate
rested in the hands of twelve Gods and Goddesses, who she had almost destroyed.
She had had dealings with some of them before and she was expected to believe
that they would play fare.
first thing that she was aware of was the stinging sensation of a slap across
her left cheek, which almost smashed the bone and dislocated the jaw. She worked
her jaw to be certain that she had not sustained those very two injuries,
“You’ll have to do better than that.” Callisto goaded her attacker, her
eyes remained closed, she was oblivious to who she spoke.
second slap came across the right cheek and she instantly tasted blood foaming
in her mouth. This unfamiliar and unsuspected reaction from her body caused rage
to course through her, she lifted her head and opened her eyes hissing at her
attacker. Callisto did not recognise the woman with the wild white hair and dark
eyes, but the red rags wrapped about her body were a give away. She fought
vainly against her bonds that chained her to the wall and tried to lash out at
have to do better than that.” Alecto jeered at her.
spat the blood from her bleeding gum and lips into the woman’s face. A
mistake. Alecto reached out and gripped Callisto around the throat and lifted
her completely off the ground. As the former Goddess gasped for air around her
restricted wide pipe she saw the blood hiss upon Alecto’s skin until it was
gone, “If I were you I would start showing the Furies the respect that we
deserve.” Alecto dropped Callisto releasing her vice like grip from her
throat, a slight wave of her hand and the shackles were released as well.
legs buckled for a brief moment but she quickly regained her balance; she glared
at the retreating back of the Fury, it would be so easy to just....
it you best shot.” Alecto spun around, holding her arms out to make herself a
target for Callisto’s rage, “You are no longer a Goddess Callisto,” she
once again approached her prisoner and placed a finger on Callisto’s forehead
and traced it along the scar to the opposite cheek, “That should be abundantly
put her hands to her face and found the old scar and acknowledged the tautness
of skin that such a scar would bring, something she had not felt as an immortal
or Goddess. Suddenly she realised that she no longer felt the surge of the
have a question.” Alecto announced.
thought about not asking it, but decided that she had nothing to lose, “I
asked for Oblivion.”
here you are.” Alecto gestured to the chamber, a chamber with no visible
entrance. “Oblivion is a little place that my sisters and I created for Gods
who were stupid enough to get themselves killed.” Alecto watched the disgust
that crossed Callisto’s face at this new found knowledge, a gesture made even
more venomous by the scar. “Next time I would advise being careful what you
ask for. Just so that you know, your neighbours are Strife and Velasca,” she
indicated to either side of the chamber, “and neither one is very happy with
you.” Alecto left the comment hanging and was about to leave.
you have stripped me of my godhood then you must be more powerful than the Gods
themselves.” Callisto mused out loud hoping that Alecto would take the
grinned widely at the comment, “We are more powerful than you will ever know,
more powerful than you will ever want to know.”
you can do something for me.” Callisto hoped Alecto had a bigger ego than
what might that be?” Alecto asked, curious, and surprised that Callisto had
the audacity to ask in the first place.
want to see Xena.” Callisto demanded.
should be impossible for you.” Callisto pointed out.
are dead Callisto, you cannot appear in the mortal world, the living cannot see
you.” Alecto explained as though she was talking to a stubborn child, that was
not too far from the truth.
you could make her see me, there has to be a way.” The Fury seemed to be
contemplating the idea, Callisto had to push just a little further, “I just
want to talk to her, I need to straighten a few things out with her.”
see what I can do.” Alecto vanished in a blue glow.
looked around. There was no way to get in or out of the cell unless you had
godly powers, but then she was dead, where would she go anyway?
Xena’s and Callisto’s Threads
sleep she had fallen into was much needed but far from restful. Inevitably her
subconscious had conjured up the images of those final moments - the last she
had shared with Gabrielle. In the dreams the screams of Gabrielle’s death
echoed all around her, suffocating all other sounds, and now she could hear
Gabrielle cursing her for her failure. Xena sank to her knees at the chasms
edge, whispering into the flames, “I’m sorry, please forgive me....”
sorry,” Xena screamed as she awoke. A cold slick layer of perspiration
covering her flesh and the blanket tangled around her limbs and body. “I’m
sorry,” she said again, her breathing ragged as it caught in her throat.
gripped her head as the pain caught up with the rest of her body; forcefully she
ran her fingers through her hair pushing it out of her eyes to look around the
twilight filled room. In the half darkness she only just saw the figure sitting
in the corner of the room - Callisto.
body had no strength to challenge the previous Goddess, and Callisto did not
appear as though she was looking for a fight, besides Xena was convinced that
she had killed the blonde warrior, So what is she doing here?
don’t want to fight, I just wanted to see you.” Callisto stood from the
chair she had been perched on and moved across the room with cat-like grace.
had she known what I was thinking?
I’m inside that tortured prison that you call a mind.” Callisto moved closer
to Xena and lowered her head to look at the weary eyes, the haggard face.
Lifting her hand she prodded at the injury on the side of Xena’s head and
delighted when Xena flinched.
I killed you.” Xena batted Callisto’s hand away and began to eye the blonde
woman with suspicion.
I know,” Callisto shrugged her shoulders, “When has that ever stopped me
before?” She rubbed her temples with the heels of her hands and continued with
a frustrated tone, “The least you could do is hear what I have to say.”
nothing you can say that will take the pain away.” Xena spat at her.
eyes shone bright with hatred, “Pain. Pain. You want to know about pain. Pain
is when you watch everything you love, everything you believe in destroyed
before your eyes; and then the pain is all there is, it drives you, it controls
you. You did that to me Xena, you did.” The intense glare in Callisto’s eyes
softened somewhat, taking an understanding view of the warrior princess, “You
do know what that pain is like. I never knew she was that important.”
two warriors stared at each other through the growing twilight until finally
Callisto broke away. She began to pace around the room, feeling like a caged
cat, she had never liked being confined. Two hands gripped her hair and yanked
occasionally at the white blonde locks. “I’m not about to forgive you Xena,
you killed me just when I found I had a reason for living, but you wouldn’t
listen to me, too hung up on your own selfish feelings, it’s always Xena, Xena,
had just died you heartless bitch.” Xena hissed.
Callisto shot Xena a look as she wagged her figure in the dark warriors
direction, “I’m the one doing the talking.” Her hands had fallen to her
sides but her fingers never stopped moving, “What would you say if I told you
that when Gabrielle sacrificed herself I finally realised what she had been
trying to tell me?”
say you were lying.” Xena said with all the sarcasm she could muster.
clasped and unclasped her hands continually pulling at her fingers. “No not
completely. I’m sorry the irritating brat died, I kinda found her....
intriguing. I couldn’t work out why she loved you and hated me when we were
essentially the same.”
helped me find redemption, something you could never hope to glimpse.” Xena
I’ll never have the chance now, will I?” When Callisto turned to look at
Xena this time there were shafts of moonlight beginning to filter through the
window and Callisto realised for the first time that Xena was completely naked.
She looked the body up and down with an appraising look. “I didn’t come her
to argue with you.”
look did not go unnoticed by Xena. She was not self-conscious of her body in the
slightest but she had not known that she was naked until Callisto had looked at
her. “That would make a change.”
make this more difficult than it already is Xena,” Callisto’s voice held a
note of warning, “I just wanted to say thank you. I asked you to kill me and
you did, you seemed the obvious choice since it was you who butchered my
allowed the usual taunting about the past to slide by considering what Callisto
had just said.
would have told you sooner, but I was too busy dying.” Callisto leaned over
until their faces were barely inches apart and their gazes were locked. “Thank
had only just registered the shock of the apology when she was registering the
shock of Callisto’s lips pressed against her own. Her eyes closed briefly at
the sensation and when they re-opened to object to the invasion of her personal
space Callisto was gone and the room was empty in the twilight once again.
mind awoke for the second time, but this time there was no scream of anguish,
instead there was a snarl of disgust mixed with a dark desire for the woman who
her mind returned to the confines of the cell in Oblivion Callisto raised her
head, opening her eyes she ran her tongue over her lips which still held the
sensation of Xena upon them. She had, of course, never actually left the cell,
her mind had been placed inside the Warrior Princesses causing her to appear as
an hallucination. The conductors of this scheme stood before her; all three of
the Furies had taken part in the manipulation of the plan and now they released
the power that it had taken.
a hand Alecto indicated that her two sisters were dismissed, a blue glow filled
the room and then they were gone. Alecto strode across the room to where
Callisto sat cross-legged and traced a slender index finger along Callisto’s
jaw, “Why did you want to see the Warrior Princess?”
made me and only she can destroy me.” Callisto explained simply.
where you are wrong.” The Fury held an amused expression in her eyes.
killed my family and made me the monster I am. She gave me the fury to avenge
their deaths. Only her blood could stop the anger, the hate.” Callisto
reaffirmed her driven purpose in life.
sparked that fire, but I was the one who fueled it. She didn’t make you who
you are, I did.” Alecto enjoyed the amused expression that was beginning to
creep across Callisto’s childlike features. “Who do you think gave you the
anger, the hate? Who do you think punished you with the madness that forced you
to avenge your family’s death? Only the Furies can give you that drive, and
only the Furies can liberate you from the madness.”
ran her tongue over her lips once more, searching for Xena - her focus - but the
feeling was not strong enough and slipping away far to quickly.
the matter Callisto?” Alecto gripped the woman’s chin and forced her to look
up, searching the deep brown eyes for the haunted look of anguish, “Finding
the truth a little difficult?”
lunged towards the Fury, arms out to grasp the slender throat, “You’re
deflected Callisto's hands and caught hold of a handful of hair jerking
Callisto's head backwards. Callisto was on her knees now with Alecto towering
over her, “You dare to call me a liar.” Alecto lowered her face and
her voice to her a whisper, “What would you have done once you had killed her?
Search for redemption? Admit it Callisto, deep down you didn't want to kill her
because you know that she is not the answer. Don't you?” She jerked
Callisto’s head hard, “Don't you?”
Callisto gasped. She was unused to being at anyone’s mercy, not Xena, not
Ares, but this woman had rendered her completely helpless.
you want Oblivion Callisto, do you want redemption?” Alecto tightened her grip
causing pain to jolt through Callisto’s body.
tried to withstand the pain, the pressure that Alecto was subjecting her to. But
she knew Alecto was right; deep down she knew that Alecto was the answer.
right Callisto, I’m the key. The key to your pain, your torture, your release.
If you want it all to stop I can make it happen.” Alecto's gaze bore into
Callisto waiting her answer.
Callisto uttered in barely more than a whisper; she could allow no more than
that, knowing that she was submitting.
released her hold, dropping Callisto into a heap on the floor, “I ask but one
favour in return,” She waited until she had Callisto's full attention, “You
will be taken to Mount Olympus where you will testify in the Judgement of
precious, little Gabrielle.”
will not.” Callisto barked as she forced herself to stand face to face with
will, or you will pay the consequences.” The Fury smirked at the possible
punishments she could inflict. “It would be easier on all involved if you just
agreed. Who knows, you might find some redemption along the way.”
cares?” Callisto replied dismissively.
do not have a choice Callisto. I will come for you when it is time.” With the
smile still firmly fixed on her lips she disappeared, leaving Callisto alone to
ponder on her sham of a life and her suffering in death.
burst through the door and it slammed behind him and he was on the bed beside
Xena before the growl had finished on her lips. Cautiously he reached out,
passed her flailing arms and pulled her to him, letting her take all the comfort
she needed, “Xena it’s okay, I'm here, we’re all here,” He soothed.
burrowed deeper into his embrace where she felt protected.
a moment Hercules was surprised by her affection seeking act and the fact that
she was naked; then he reminded himself that she had just lost her best friend
and probably did not care about her state of dress - or lack there of.
passed and neither one made any move to finish the intimate exchange. Xena found
herself wrapping her arms around his body with her fingers tracing the contours
of the muscles along his bare back; while Hercules found himself absently
stroking her long black hair. When it finally dawned on them how dangerous the
prolonged contact was they began to ease away from one another. It was then that
they saw the look in each others eyes; where Xena’s had been clouded with
anguish and Hercules’ had been filled with concern, they both mirrored the
same thing - desire.
they really been able to fool themselves and each other so easily? It had been a
few years since they had been together as lovers, having suppressed their
desires for the sake of their friendship. They both knew the profound effect
they had on one another. Xena had been the first woman that Hercules had allowed
himself to love after the death of his wife Deineira. Hercules had been the only
man who had been able to withstand her aggressive nature, had she not told him
that he had unchained her heart?
thinking she began to extend a hand to the side of his face, Hercules quickly
grasped the hand in his own and gently pushed it away but kept hold of it. Her
other hand instinctively began the same act and again Hercules caught it but met
with more resistance this time. With no way to hold her back she leaned forward,
“I need you,” she whispered as she shifted closer and pressed her lips to
kiss was quickly mounting in intensity, with Xena becoming more forceful and
Hercules surrendering to the passion he felt for the warrior. Sensing the
surrender Xena pushed forward forcing Hercules back on the bed, a quick movement
of her hands and she grasped his gauntlets, pinning his arms to the mattress.
knew he should stop her, for a hundred reasons: she was not thinking clearly,
they would both regret it later, it would blur the boundaries they had drawn for
themselves; but the single reason as to why they should kept him going: it felt
long had it been since they had been together? How much had he missed it? And
now as her body was pressed against his, her lips on his and her finger tips
gently trailing along his bare arms he did not want to say no.
her fingers reached his shoulders she pushed away, looking down at him she
smiled slyly then arced a leg over his hips to straddle his body. Xena had no
idea how or when she had lost her restraint, but while Hercules was this close
and this responsive to her she could not help herself. Every time this man came
into her life her emotions went into turmoil. She had kept desire, passion and
lust under control for so long and right now she was damned if she would let
another person that she loved die without showing them how she felt.
ran his hands along the muscled thighs that rested on either side of his hips
and breathed deeply as Xena’s fingers began the agonizing trail down his chest
and torso. All the while their eyes were locked on one another. When her fingers
reached the waistband of his trousers she leaned down, brushing her lips against
his, as she deftly unfastened the buckle and began work on the laces. It was
only when her hands made contact with the sensitive flesh beneath that Hercules
came back to reality with a crash. He grasped both on her hands and pulled them
away before it got to the stage where he could not say no. “This is a bad
idea.” He said as he tore his lips away from hers and tried to get out from
wasn’t such a bad idea a few years ago.” She smiled seductively and tried to
push him back to the bed.
rolled their bodies to finish with him on top of Xena, “Things change.” He
said as he tried to climb off of her and the bed.
slung her arms around his neck, “They don't have to,” She pulled him down
for another kiss, "I need you," She whispered against his mouth.
took the arms from around his neck and held them down against the bed, “You
need someone Xena, but it’s not me.” He managed to get away from her and
stand up. He fumbled with the laces on his trousers, trying to do them up as
fast as possible. When he looked back to where she lay, an expression of hurt in
her eyes he could only think of one thing to say, “I’ll get Ephiny to take
care of that.” He said indicating to the side of her head and the unattended
wound. With his trousers fastened he left the room.
a moment Xena lay on the bed unable to move with the shock of what she had just
done, what she had been going to do. Slowly she drew the blanket tightly around
her naked body, the regret flowing through her, “Please don’t leave me
too,” She whispered after him.
in Part 5